Temperature, but not available energy, affects the expression of a sexually selected ultraviolet (UV) colour trait in male european green lizards

Katalin Bajer, Orsolya Molnár, J. Török, G. Herczeg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Colour signals are widely used in intraspecific communication and often linked to individual fitness. The development of some pigment-based (e.g. carotenoids) colours is often environment-dependent and costly for the signaller, however, for structural colours (e.g. ultraviolet [UV]) this topic is poorly understood, especially in terrestrial ectothermic vertebrates. Methodology/Principal Findings: In a factorial experiment, we studied how available energy and time at elevated body temperature affects the annual expression of the nuptial throat colour patch in male European green lizards (Lacerta viridis) after hibernation and before mating season. In this species, there is a female preference for males with high throat UV reflectance, and males with high UV reflectance are more likely to win fights. We found that (i) while food shortage decreased lizards' body condition, it did not affect colour development, and (ii) the available time for maintaining high body temperature affected the development of UV colour without affecting body condition or other colour traits. Conclusions/Significance: Our results demonstrate that the expression of a sexually selected structural colour signal depends on the time at elevated body temperature affecting physiological performance but not on available energy gained from food per se in an ectothermic vertebrate. We suggest that the effect of high ambient temperature on UV colour in male L. viridis makes it an honest signal, because success in acquiring thermally favourable territories and/or effective behavioural thermoregulation can both be linked to individual quality.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere34359
JournalPLoS One
Volume7
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 27 2012

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Lizards
lizards
Color
Temperature
color
energy
temperature
Body Temperature
body temperature
throat
Pharynx
reflectance
body condition
Vertebrates
vertebrates
Hibernation
Food
Lacerta
food shortages
Body Temperature Regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Temperature, but not available energy, affects the expression of a sexually selected ultraviolet (UV) colour trait in male european green lizards. / Bajer, Katalin; Molnár, Orsolya; Török, J.; Herczeg, G.

In: PLoS One, Vol. 7, No. 3, e34359, 27.03.2012.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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